Thursday, October 22, 2009

Why They Invented the Internet #3

Sorry for the long layoff folks.

It's been a hectic summer/early fall here at Friendly Friends HQ.


After 127 (126?) seasons and 7 total trips to the WS the Phils finally put together their first back-to-back trips to the Fall Classic.

So to celebrate, here is another installment of Why They Invented The Internet. Because without the internet, I would never get to see Henry Hill react to Franzke's call of Jimmy Rollins' walk-off double in game 4 of this year's NLCS.

Enjoy, and tip of the William Penn-sized Phillies hat (that they thankfully have not dragged out of storage) to the always fantastic Fightin's.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Holy Crap! John Hughes Died?!

He wrote and/or directed some of the most quotable, most memorable movies of our childhood:

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
Uncle Buck
The Great Outdoors
Planes, Trains & Automobiles
Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Pretty in Pink
Weird Science
National Lampoon's European Vacation
The Breakfast Club
Sixteen Candles
National Lampoon's Vacation
Mr. Mom

I honestly don't think that a gathering of Friendly Friends goes by without one of these movies being quoted repeatedly. These movies helped define our senses of humor (some more than others, Mr. Mom, Uncle Buck and Planes, Trains & Automobiles I'm looking at you) and have provided hours of enjoyment.

I hope the guest book at the funeral home has entries from Abe Frohman, Bug and Long Duk Dong.

RIP awesome movie guy.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Why They Invented the Internet #2

We here at Friendly Friends Mining and Manufacturing are unabashed Phillies fans. We spent many an hour of our youths roaming the ramps at the Vet begging our parents for a helmet sundae. And we all shed a tear or two last October.

So it should come as no surprise that this video featuring J-Roll and Ryan Howard makes the cut. The "speak through the pans, sir" line alone is enough.

[Thanks to With Leather, and the other sites posting this video]

Friday, July 31, 2009

Time to Take Out Some Trash

Ramblings and rants that have been bouncing around my brain lately:

1. As an employee of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our state reps and senators for doing an amazing job in Harrisburg. Truly.

By sticking to your convictions that it's better to be a good republican or a good democrat over all else, you've guaranteed that I won't be getting a paycheck for the foreseeable future. God forbid you actually work for the citizens of this fine Commonwealth instead of working to protect the little letter after your name.

You are all a bunch of complete assholes.

2. Wawa, I sing your virtues on a near-daily basis. I enjoy your coffee and the ease with which you allow me to purchase items quickly. I take baths in your buffalo blue cheese sauce.

So why you playing me like a fool? Extending Hoagiefest until August 9th?? Making sure both versions of the hoagiefest songs stick in my brain for another week?? How could you????

3. I think we need a better definition of racial profiling. Police officers responding to a call of an attempted break-in are not racially profiling anybody if they pull up and find a black guy inside a house which he entered through a window after not being able to open the door, EVEN IF THE BLACK GUY LIVES THERE! Police officers stopping a young black man who stands about 6 feet tall, weighs about 200 pounds, wearing blue running pants with a yellow stripe and a grey t-shirt an is doing nothing other than jogging at 11 pm are not racially profiling anyone IF THEY RECEIVED A DESCRIPTION OF A RAPE SUSPECT WHO WAS A YOUNG BLACK MAN WEARING RUNNING PANTS AND A GREY T-SHIRT AND IS 6 FEET TALL AND WEIGHS 200 LBS!

(The second one actually happened to a friend of mine in college. He never claimed racial profiling, but many of our friends did. He's a cop now.)

I worked in law enforcement for many years going back to my college days and I work in law enforcement now. Racial profiling DOES happen. There are bad cops and DA's and judges out there who jam people up for being black or Hispanic. BUT, what everyone calls racial profiling is usually not. The examples above are not profiling and the media needs to stop calling them profiling.

The police are given the task to respond to problems that we cannot deal with as regular citizens for, mostly, safety reasons. The Cambridge police receive a call of a possible break-in and the person in the house happens to be black and live there? How is that racial profiling? And taking it a step further, if you mouth off to a cop you are getting arrested. Black, white, Hispanic, Asian, whatever. That's a fact.

Had the Cambridge police been driving by and saw a black guy sitting on the porch and they stopped and bothered him, we could all cry racial profiling.

This very same thing happened in my own family. A relative was having a house built and decided to go poke around the construction site on a weekend. A neighbor saw a car parked in front of a house site and a guy poking around in all the stuff there and called the police to report a possible theft of construction supplies and equipment. The police rolled up and demanded to see my relative's ID and demanded to know what he was doing there.

Did I mention that we are white?

The police were doing their job. It doesn't matter what color any one is in that situation, the police have a job to do. Just because the perpetrator or the guy breaking into his own house is a minority does not make a situation one of racial profiling.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The XPoNential Music Festival: A Brief Review

One of the highlights of the last few summers had been spending three or four days at the XPoNential fest at Wiggin's Park on the Camden Waterfront. This weekend concert event is the annual festival put on by 88.5 WXPN here in Philly.

This year, thanks to the arrival of our first little one in March, I had planned to miss the whole thing entirely.

When I saw Saturday's schedule however, I quickly changed my mind and made plans to attend at least that day.

I was rewarded by seeing three of my favorite bands back-to-back-to-back along with several others who were highly entertaining as well.

Starting at around 8:00 p.m., They Might Be Giants took the main stage. I was sitting near the top of the hill on the right side (facing it) of the stage, near the brick path in the middle of the park and from that vantage point looking down on the hill it looked like a prairie dog city when They took the stage. From just about every group little heads popped up when John and John came out and launched into Alphabet of Nations and all of those little heads kept dancing through Seven and then the adult stuff as well. One little guy near me didn't stop until the encore of "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)" and did one of the best dances I've seen to "Dr. Worm." Even though I've seen TMBG 6 or 7 times live it never gets boring, though this was the first time they were called "The Toby Keith Experience," in homage to Mr. Keith's appearance across the marina.

After They, Hoots and Hellmouth blew away the crowd at the marina stage with a rousing set of stuff from their first CD and their newest, The Holy Open Secret. I had seen Hoots last year (?) at the Festival as they opened the main stage one of the days and they sounded great but seemed a little ragged. This time? Absolutely nailed it. The band was tighter and sounded fantastic.

After Hoots, it was time to get back over to the main stage for The Hold Steady. Having never seen them live, I wasn't entirely prepared for Craig Finn's on stage mannerisms. For a guy that sounds a little like Springsteen and has the vocal chops to command every single song, it was a little bizarre to see a guy that makes Devo look like James Brown clones on stage. But The Hold Steady rocked my face clear off of my skull...until the skies opened and they were chased from the stage. I did finally get to hear live versions of some of my favorites (Chips Ahoy, Stuck Between Stations, Massive Nights, Lord I'm Discouraged, Southtown Girls and One For The Cutters) but I feel like I got gypped out of so much more. I was really hoping for Two Crosses, Citrus, Slapped Actress and, of course, Constructive Summer. I really wanted to make that a sing-along song and belt out "GET HAMMERED" with the band. If only the weather had held out...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Why They Invented the Internet #1

Welcome to the first in what I hope will become a regular feature here at Friendly Friends Mortuary and Catering.

Every so often, while cruising the information superhighway, I come across something that makes me say, "This, this right here, is why they invented the Internet. So that someday in the future a guy like me can be cruising around and run across THIS."

Today's entry is the video for The Avalanches' Frontier Psychiatrist.

This entry also presents some interesting synchronicity. As some of you are aware, I wake up most mornings with a song or a portion of a song playing on repeat in my brain. A couple of mornings ago it was the stupid WaWa hoagiefest song and it wasn't until I got to work and had my coffee that it finally faded.

The annoying thing about this soundtrack in my brain is that it is very, very insistent until I can finally shut it out. To the point where I sometimes have to sing whatever is stuck on a loop while in the shower.

This past Tuesday morning I woke up with one tiny fragment of Frontier Psychiatrist playing over and over in my head. It happened to be the part that I've always heard as "Framakazoot, let's have a toot" but could be something else entirely. Then on Wednesday I happened to cruise on past one of my favorite websites for pure random awesomeness, the Percy Tout hour and lo and behold there is the video for this song in all its living glory.

I hadn't heard this song since probably around 2001 but I woke up with it playing in my head and a day later I find the video with very little effort on my part. Honestly, I never even thought about a possible video for this song, which as it sounds like a collection of samples doesn't lend itself to a video.

But, man, it's awesome:

So there you have it. Why they invented the Internet.

Barth Goes to The Greasy Spoon In The Sky

I know what you're thinking. No update for nearly a month and then when we return it's another post about death.

We here at Friendly Friends Amalgamated Manufacturing and Refining Company, Inc. are usually pretty happy fellows. None of us really dwell too much on death and dying.

But when it's a small piece of your childhood that has died you feel compelled to comment on it. And that's what happened when Les Lye passed away on Tuesday.

Mr. Lye played all of the adult male characters on my favorite show as a kid, You Can't Do That on Television. I raced home most days from Erdenheim Elementary to catch this show on Nickelodeon.

The opening, very Monty Python-esque, features Mr. Lye prominently:

Here's my favorite Mr. Lye character, and the inspiration for the title of this post, beating up on his poor employee, Zilch:

Barth takes care of the health inspector, leading to two of the greatest catchphrases from the show:

And finally, Mr. Lye as Ross Ewitch the stage manager being subjected to green slime. As a kid I wanted to get slimed so badly:

It must say something about me that while watching these clips I still laughed like I did when I was 7 or 8, but I did.

Thanks Mr. Lye and RIP.

Monday, June 29, 2009

I thought these things only came in 3's?

First it was Ed McMahon. Pretty sad, but he was 86 and in failing health.

Then it was Farrah Fawcett. Again, sad, but she'd been fighting cancer for some time.

Then it was Michael Jackson. Sad, I guess, but hasn't he really been dead for about 20 years now?

But the kicker, the WTF moment of "celebrity" deaths was the one that occurred over the weekend.

Billy Mays?? Huh? How is that possible?

It's amazing what TV you can get into when you are sitting up late either with an infant or awaiting the infant's eventual late-night wake-up. I became a rather fond follower of the TLC show "Pitchmen" thanks to our 14-week old.

He worked hard to get from the Pittsburgh area to the Boardwalk in AC to the mansion seen on Pitchmen.

And now? Gone.

I have to say, of the "celebrity" deaths in the last week, the death of Billy Mays actually hit the hardest.

RIP Pitchman.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Negelcted Neon Number 1

Not only do Ghost Signs/Ads fascinate me, but so do old, forgotten neon signs.

I guess it's fair to say that neon sign making may be a dying art. Without doing any research or consulting with sign makers, I will base that statement purely on the fact that I just don't see as much neon as I used to.

These faded, neon-less neon signs are sad reminders of bygone days. When I see what's left of these signs, I am struck by how time ravages everything. To think that there was a proud, beaming shop owner watching with pride as his/her sign was hoisted up and lit for the first time, beckoning people from all over to their business and then to see these mostly forgotten relics of that time, far from their glory days leaves me with a bit of melancholy.

Here's the first two that I've collected...

Woodland Avenue in SW Philly, now a west African grocery...

This first picture shows the now neon-less sign for an auto parts store. While it is nice to see that the building itself is still in use for business purposes, and not one of many boarded up hulks on Woodland Avenue, there is still a feeling of loss for what once was. I can almost see the owner of the auto parts store standing across the street, chest puffed out a bit, as he saw the (probably) red neon flicker for the first time. This was his big moment. This was his time to draw the customers in. This was his chance to pay off the loan from his in-laws and finally prove that he wasn't the screw-up they believed stole their daughter away.

Southern end of Lancaster City, not sure if the building is in use at all right now. Barely managed to get the cell phone out in time...

Mr. Rebman must have been so proud. Here was his name on the store, the first in what he hoped would be a regional, then national, chain. What did he sell? It doesn't matter. He had a plum location on the outskirts. The city folk could get in and out as well as the rural folk. He'd catch them on the way into town for a day of shopping and marvelling at the newest and best technological doodads for the home. He could see them now, piling out of the big station wagons, boys in uncomfortable starched shirts and suits, Sunday-only shoes pinching all of their toes. Girls in dresses and gloves, clutching their little purses tight, protecting the small fortune in dimes and nickles they'd spend in the candy department. Moms excited to maybe one-up the Smiths across the way; Dads exhausted from working all week on the farm, looking forward to maybe sneaking one at that little taproom just up the block...

The PECO Building Crown Lights are Proceeding Nicely

More cell phone shots whilst driving down the rain...

The whole thing is supposed to be done for July 4th. We'll see.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Definitive 1000

We are going to be counting down the Definitive 1000 things. Why are they Definitive? Because The Friendly Friends have deemed them as such.

962 - Yak Loin

Good to keep the yang up.

That is all.

Hannibal Lechter Would Be Proud

Thanks for inviting me over for dinner. That's a fine looking roast you got there. I'm a big pot roast fan. Potatoes, carrots, onions all in the gravy with the beef. That's some good eats right there. Oh how I love to smoosh up the potatoes with the onion and drown it in au jus.

What? You've given up beef? Oh, ok. Well, whatever floats your boat. So then what are we having? I mean, that really looks like beef. Is it for someone else?

What is it? Mutton? That color, that marbling. You're not a vegetarian so don't try and tell me that's tofu.

Let me see that....

So that explains the fava beans in the pot and nice bottle of Chianti on the table...

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

What's the Opposite of a Ghost Sign/Ad?

It would definitely include shiny new LED lights and it would obviously be on a building.

Well, after a life spent seeing the top of the PECO Building in Philly looking a lot like this:

I was very happy to hear that the old fashioned scrolling light bulb sign would be replaced with LEDS. Well, then imagine my delight when I saw the top look like this the other day during an otherwise hellish commute home:

I know these aren't the best, but I was using my cellphone and trying not to run into anyone. Plus anyone who is familiar with this stretch of the Schuylkill "Expressway" knows I'm about to go under 30th Street...

I can't wait to see the finished product. I am a sucker for this kind of stuff.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Now Batting...The Rabid Child

Ever since I was a geeky middle schooler (I was one of two members of the AV Club, we inventoried and delivered all AV equipment to the whole school) and a geeky high schooler (my homeroom was in the AV Department where I was director of the Morning News and Announcements) I have been a huge fan of They Might Be Giants. The combo of accordions and wordplay was enough to tear me away from the hair metal and awful boy bands of Top 40 radio in Philly in the late 80's and early 90's. They still inhabit a large portion of my iPod's 4 GB.

And now as a parent I cannot wait to share TMBG with my little girl. At this point (10 weeks) she's not too cognizant of the music playing most of the time around the house, but I have a feeling we'll be enjoying They soon enough.

Hopefully she'll be as lucky as these kids:

Brooklyn-based alt rock pioneers They Might Be Giants have decided to start sponsoring little league teams, following in the footsteps of other community-friendly entrepreneurs like Hoffman Car Wash and Dick's Sporting Goods. It's another savvy move for the protean Johns, because the free advertising can't help but boost record sales on their growing catalog of children's albums. (The band just won a Grammy for Best Children's album for "Here Come the 123s")

Now, that's just plain awesomeness. I played two seasons of t-ball for Wyndmoor Auto Supply. I would have much rather been playing for Chess Piece Face, Particle Man, Jame Ensor and Mr. Me.

[Article and picture from]

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Pleaseohpleaseohplease let the Curse strike again...

I hate the Pens. I cannot stand the constant whining from Crosby. Please let the gods of hockey smite him for touching the Prince of Wales Trophy and keep his name off the Stanley Cup.

[Pic from With Leather]

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

So, It's Been Awhile


Glad to see you. You're looking pretty good. Lose some weight? I think you did. No, really. Oh stop it, you're perfect the way you are.

So. What's been happening, you ask? Well, not too much.

Let's the mulching done, overseeded the lawn, mowed it a few times, pulled up the sod for Ms. Jewbacca's new garden...

What else, what else...

I feel like I'm forgetting something...

Oh yeah...been spending time with this, our new baby overlord:

That little bundle of joy joined us about 7 weeks ago. They say that your life changes when you have kids. There's no way that that old chestnut in any form prepares you for the absolute upheaval that you experience when you walk in the door from the hospital and there's no one but yourselves to take care of this new, helpless life.

I won't lie to you and say it's all been unicorns and rainbows, because quite frankly it hasn't been. But for the most part it's been a wonderful experience.

Once she started smiling...

[Anyone missing the reference in the picture above check this out.]

Monday, April 13, 2009

R.I.P. Harry Kalas, the Voice of Summer

As a lifelong Phillies fan, I can honestly say that hearing Harry the K call a game meant that it was summertime. No school, no homework, just cicadas, run-the-bases and watching the Phils on TV.

There are few better feelings than lying on the sofa on a rainy stormy summer Sunday afternoon and watching the Phils play somewhere sunny and hearing Harry Kalas call the game.

And now that is gone.

Harry Kalas passed away this afternoon, instantaneously silencing summer for good. The cicadas will still chirp for sure, but the unmistakable narration of summer in Philly won't be joining them.

I actually did meet Harry Kalas once. Me and the Sweaty Irishman charged up the steps at Jack Russell Stadium in Clearwater at the end of an exhibition game to the press box. The windows were open and Sweaty and I stood there in awe, hemming and hawing out our thanks and whatnot. Harry looked bemused and rather than cowering in fear thanked us and shook our hands. That 30 second encounter is a highlight of my sports life.

We'll miss you Harry. Phillies home runs and strikeouts by Phils' pitchers will never sound the same...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Ghost Signs: Philly Part 2

Here's a couple more ghost signs I've encountered on my travels around the City of Brotherly Love.

This one is on a building in the middle of 13th at Cuthbert. I took it from the top of the parking garage at 12th and Filbert:

I really can't make out any features of this one. It appears that there were several different signs in this spot. At least one was square/rectangular and at least one other was circular. Could it have been this one from 1965? The windows sort of match:

Here it is a bit closer, also from 1965:

The second one caught my eye while driving to work:

It's on the side of a building at the corner of Shields Street and Woodland Avenue, near 67th and Woodland.

Clearly it's a Coca-Cola/Ice Cream Soda sign. But it appears to be on top of a smaller sign. I've been studying the top line and all I can make out is what appears to be "Chas Kendis," research of which reveals nothing. Unfortunately the city historical photo archive has nothing for this address either.

[Old Timey Pictures courtesy of Go at your own risk and prepare to lose most of the next 5 or 6 hours browsing...]

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

It's Bracket Time Again!!

And I'm not talking about that ridiculous time waster that will somehow cause businesses to lose eleventy-billion dollars in a month due to their employees working out brackets and watching games on their computers.

No, I am talking about the miraculous and sublime Name of the Year tournament.

I'm late to this party, as I only discovered it last year, but this thing is a million times better than trying to figure out if some idiot team from that idiot sport can beat another idiot team.

As an aside, the NCAA won't go to a football playoff partly because it would tie up the "student" athletes for too long. But in this idiot sport most teams play in a conference tournament and then possibly in a month long second tournament to decide a champion? Whatever.

Anyhow, with matchups like the 8th seeded Larry Koldsweat taking on the 9 seed Larry Warmflash in the Bulltron Regional and the 2nd seeded Nutritious Love battling the 15 seed Tequila Minsky (I smell upset!) in the Sithole Regional, how can you go wrong?

Who cares if some idiot campus of UNC from an idiot conference beats some other idiot school from another idiot conference??

What does matter is if the 3 seed Dallas Lauderdale can take out the 14th seeded Scorpio Babers in the Dragonwagon Regional.

Folks, these are all real names. They're real people. They are all vying for our votes. Log on, visit the site and make sure Juvyline Cubangbang makes it to the next round. Give Dr. Shasta Kielbasa his/her day in the sun. Honor Bunkless Bovian. Make sure the Buff Parrott avoids the Chastity Clapp.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

No Pat, Thank You.

It's sad that Pat Burrell has moved on from the Phillies. I'll admit that I was in the chorus calling for his head on more than one occasion. I wish him nothing but the best, except against the Phils, in the future.

From The Fightins via The 700 Level comes this, a full page ad in the Daily News:

What a classy move by a classy guy.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The View Through the Window Across From Room 232, Philly City Hall

Philadelphia's City Hall is a fascinating building, inside and out. Here's the view from the window across from Courtroom 232:

And as a bonus, here's the view through one of the massive archways. I believe this is south down Market Street:

That Newspaper Sure Knows Its Stuff...

While getting the room ready for our impending arrival we decided to put a fresh coat of red paint on the mirror from my room when I was a kid. I grabbed a bunch of the Inqy out of the recycling basket and masked it up:

After screwing up the first coats and asking my professional painter/artist brother-in-law for help we brought the mirror inside and sanded it down. It was at this point I noticed the article that was on the front of the masking newspaper:

You know what? A splash or dash of red really does spice up home accessories.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Ghost Signs: Philly Part 1

I finally got a new cell phone after about 5 years with my previous one. Did you know they come with cameras now?

That would explain why I started taking pictures of the ghost signs on my way to work in Southwest Philly. These are all along the Woodland Avenue shopping corridor:

Around about 55th and Woodland

Near 60th and Woodland
Obviously not much of a ghost sign as it's still in good shape and the company is still in business. Not a big fan of the slogan at the top though, for obvious reasons.

64th and Woodland
Looks like the sign may have been for a place called George's, much like the present check cashing place. Interestingly as well, it looks like there was more to the present George's sign as well at one point, as you can see by the remnants of the wooden framework still there.

UPDATE: After driving by again today, it is actually an ad for "Celotex." A quick Google shows that Celotex is a bankrupt asbestos insulation manufacturer.

67th and Woodland
Right near my office, a long gone meat market. Not even 100% sure if the store in there now is even open.

These signs are even more important since the entire area is vastly different than when it was a thriving shopping area.

Monday, March 9, 2009

A Chicago Disappearing Act

One of my favorite foods is the simple hot dog. And I think I like them simply because they hold mustard and ketchup and relish. People frown when you eat these things straight from the jar.

I knew while I was in Chicago I was going to have to try a hot dog, Chicago-style. A dog with yellow mustard, relish, chopped onions, tomato wedges, a pickle spear, peppers and a dash of celery salt was in my proverbial wheelhouse. I was warned beforehand NOT to ask for ketchup.

During one of my wanders around the city I came across this place:

And here's where the disappearing act happened.

I sat down with one of these:

And within about a minute and a half I had this:

Pretty cool magic trick, huh? Though absolutely delicious it was surprisingly the only one I had during the entire trip.

Ghost Signs: Chicago

My grandfather sold men's clothes. He worked for a company based in North Carolina, and travelled throughout the coal region of PA selling to mom and pop stores in the days before the big chains and the malls destroyed the Main Streets of Forty Fort, Shamokin Dam, Mahanoy, Milton, etc.

He had a showroom in a "mart" in center city Philly at 8th and Arch. One of my favorite things to do when he'd take me and the Malagan down to his showroom was to look around at all of the faded advertisements painted on the buildings.

Here are a few from our Chicago trip:

Clearly this is the well-known Brunswick Corporation. According to their website this logo was adopted in 1960 when the company changed its name from the Brunswick-Balke-Collender Company. Not sure if there was a bowling alley here or just an ad.

This appears to be the Carl Whitinger Company, a floral supply business. According to the American Floral Endowment Annual Report for 2004, the company was a contributor. Other than that, I got nothing.

Gotta be the W.W. Kimball Piano Company. At the bottom of the sign is a section that appears to say "piano" and "organ." The original Kimball factory was at 26th and Rockwell Streets in Chicago in the early 1880s. See The Encyclopedia of Chicago for more detail.

From Chicago Architecture, this building was built in 1910-1911, is 265 feet tall, and has 512,000 square feet of floor space. The Chicago Architecture website has some great pictures of the building from the front, to get the full effect. I was more interested in the rear top and the idea that the giant pipe running in front of the sign could be carrying the People's Gas.

Any time I see a Ghost Sign, I think not of the product sold, whether still with us or long gone, but about the guy that painted the sign. Did he expect it to last forever? Did he bring his kids to see it? Did he brag to the ladies that he painted that particular sign? As the sign faded away or the buildings got torn down did he feel the loss? Could he ever imagine some guy with a free website would be taking pictures of his creations and trying in a small way to preserve his work?

Friday, March 6, 2009

The Definitive 1000

We are going to be counting down the Definitive 1000 things. Why are they Definitive? Because The Friendly Friends have deemed them as such.

963 - The Cloud Gate/Chrome Jellybelly

The coolest giant jellybean in the world

I know that this thing has been around for a while, and I'm sure that there are some well written, well thought out artistic type reviews of it floating around the Internet.

All I can offer, what with no art knowledge whatsoever is that this thing is AWESOME.

Me and the missus got to spend about 4 days in Chicago in October and I spent probably about 4 hours over two days sitting in the park staring at this thing and watching other people do the same. It is truly an amazing piece of work.

I walked around it, through it, sat close to it, sat far from it and I couldn't take my eyes off it. Or stop taking pictures of it. I'll only bore you with three or four from my vast library.

The side view

I don't know what it's made out of, I don't know what it means (I don't want to ruin my own ideas about it with some artsy doofus meanings) but I know that I really really REALLY like it.

That's me, posing as a silly tourist taking a zoomed in picture of a silly tourist wearing his hometown baseball team shirt in Chicago.

I do know that I wore my Phillies shirt, since the playoffs were starting the same week we were there. In fact, we watched the first Brewers-Phils game here:

Not generally a fan of the Worldwide Leader, but sitting next to two Brewers fans who couldn't stop squirming when Mrs. Jewbacca would cheer the Phils made it all better.

The second Brewers-Phils game here:

Why yes, that is a giant Weber grill! That place was in our hotel, was the only reason I wanted to go to Chicago and will be enshrined shortly in the D-1000.

And the third at a bar about 100 yards from here:

Man did we piss off a lot of Cubbies fans when we wouldn't give up our table after the Phils-Brewers game.

We had a blast in Chicago, and I'll have more on that later (even though it was 5 months ago), but since I still can't get over how cool The Cloud Gate is in person, it is well deserving of its place in the Definitive 1000!


Minor niners.

Major niners.

Chapter IV: A New Beginning

Well, not really. Just a new generic blogger template. I thinks it's easier on the eyes.

Maybe some of our thousands of daily readers can let us know in the comments if that's true or not?

Friday, January 30, 2009


Sometimes it is just amazing when people are good at what they love.

These two guys in the bowels of NYC are proof. The sweet spot is when the rail announcements are running behind them like a layered track. I only wish this was longer.

Check the cellist and flute-breakin' loops on these guys and give it up to YouTube for more Greg Pattillo and Eric Stephenson at Union Square flavor.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Possible Top Three Random Moment of My Life

January 14, 2009

9:22 a.m.

"You Be Illin'" by Run-DMC on WXPN.


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A New Year, An Old Jewbacca


I am constantly annoyed by things in this world. At least eight times every trip to work in the morning and probably close to double that on the way home I feel the urge to kill rising in my gut.

What troubles me so? The lack of awareness and respect that seems to pervade every part of society.

And this morning, I saw in living color on my very own television something that drove that point home. It was a show called "Parking Wars." It was (is?) filmed in my fair city and follows the employees of the PPA (Philadelphia Parking Authority) on their appointed rounds.

Having been the victim of their ticketing on several occasions I am familiar with their special brand of handcrafted day-ruining (though there was a time when it was cheaper to let your meter expire and get the ticket than it was to park in a garage). But I also know that if I let my meter expire I am going to get a ticket. Same if I double park, park in front of a hydrant, or park in a handicap spot. I accept the fact that there are rules for a reason and that there are people who's job it is is to enforce those rules. Heck, I WROTE parking tickets in college.

This morning I was watching this show over breakfast and was regaled with the tale of the young woman whose friend double parked, blocking a lane of travel in Center City Philadelphia. Simple, no? Double park, block morning traffic, get a ticket, grin sheepishly, pay the fine, move on....right?

Wrong. Accost the ticket writer, scream about the unfairness of it all, use the "2 seconds" argument, use the "my friend is from New York and didn't know better" argument, rally the passers-by, accuse the ticket writer of malfeasance, scream into the camera about how unfair it all is well after the ticket is given. That's how she chose to handle it.

Why does this person not see what they did is wrong? Ignorance and nil respect for the people around her, that's why. And in a nutshell, everything that is wrong in the world today..

Interestingly enough, when I opened the paper at lunch today (yes, opened the paper...the actual paper...delivered to my home every morning) and turned to the "Style and Soul" section to read the comics (a daily tradition since 1982) these two articles greeted me:

Double-Parking? Age Cheating? Who Cares?

which was directly below, in the print edition this gem:

A Flash of Celebrity

The latter article is about a company you can hire to send out three idiots with cameras to follow you around for three hours, at $1000 a pop, to make people think you're famous. $1000. For. Your. Own. Paparazzi. The very thing actual famous people want outlawed. You can hire them. To follow you around. I...

And the former article is an interesting essay into why people cut corners and break small laws. In short, why people are ignorant and have no respect for their fellow humans.

Probably because they are too busy hiring their own paparazzi. And it only hurt my heart and brain all the more when I read that the paparazzi company got its start following around U of D students while they were bar hopping. I don't mind U of D students bar hopping (have you ever been to Newark?), but I feel a stabbing pain in my alumni pride when I find out they gave credence to this d-bag idea.

So, in the space of roughly 5 hours I got to see, crystallized in front of me once on a flat screen and once in a "dying" medium, why this world is F'd up. And why its important for me to raise my soon-to-be-here child with the following simple credo:

Do the Right Thing.

If everyone did the right thing, I would not spend a good portion of my day in a blind rage planning a kill-crazy rampage. And there would be less ignorance and more awareness and a lot more respect.